International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 100, Issue 8, pp 1937–1966 | Cite as

A medial to distal volcaniclastic record of an andesite stratovolcano: detailed stratigraphy of the ring-plain succession of south-west Taranaki, New Zealand

  • A. V. Zernack
  • S. J. Cronin
  • V. E. Neall
  • J. N. Procter
Original Paper


The >25 ka volcaniclastic ring-plain succession in south-west Taranaki has been remapped to establish a much more detailed understanding of the older stratigraphic record of Mt. Taranaki. Coastal cliff exposures show a range of volcaniclastic lithofacies, including debris-avalanche and lahar deposits, and allow a detailed chronological reconstruction of past volcanic and sedimentary events. Five new debris-avalanche deposits were identified, and their distribution in coastal cross-sections mapped. In addition, four previously described units were renamed and their stratigraphic position and lateral extent redefined. Chronostratigraphic control of the younger (<50 ka) sequence was obtained by radiocarbon dating of wood found within, or peat interbedded with, the deposits. Emplacement ages of the older units were estimated from their stratigraphic position and underlying marine wave-cut surfaces. Overall, at least 14 widespread debris-avalanche deposits occur within the <200 ka ring-plain record of Mt. Taranaki, suggesting one major edifice failure on average every 14,000 years, with an increase in frequency since 40 ka. The stratigraphic reconstruction of the ring-plain succession showed that the same pattern of deposition was repeatedly produced throughout the existence of Mt. Taranaki. Depending on their sedimentological characteristics, the different volcanic and sedimentary lithofacies can be related to phases of edifice-construction or collapse events. Based on the identified cyclic sedimentation pattern, we present a new episodic stratigraphy that integrates existing and new lithostratigraphic units into a coherent chronostratigraphic framework that can be applied to the entire volcanic and volcaniclastic succession at Mt. Taranaki. This model takes into account the complex geological processes that have taken place on the volcano and provides a more uniform stratigraphic terminology that could be applied to repeatedly collapsing stratovolcanoes elsewhere.


Mt. Taranaki Andesite stratovolcano Volcanic stratigraphy Ring-plain succession Volcaniclastic Debris-avalanche deposits 



AVZ was supported by a Massey University and German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Doctoral Scholarship, and the George Mason Trust. SJC, VEN and JNP are supported by the New Zealand Foundation for Research, Science and Technology contract MAUX0401 “Learning to Live with Volcanic Risk”. We are grateful to V. Manville and B. van Wyk de Vries for constructive reviews and helpful suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. V. Zernack
    • 1
  • S. J. Cronin
    • 2
  • V. E. Neall
    • 2
  • J. N. Procter
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratoire Magmas et VolcansUniversité Blaise PascalClermont-FerrandFrance
  2. 2.Institute of Natural ResourcesMassey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand

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